Bako National Park is a wonderful location less than an hour outside of Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo. The park includes rustic cabins (for overnight stays) and a visitors center that serves food. To reach the park you must take a 20 minute boat ride.
When the boat dropped us off here in the morning they said they would pick us up on the beach. I couldn’t really understand why, but this photo shows the tide has made the path to the stairs impassable, which explains why (I should have figured that out but my brain doesn’t always work as well as it should).
I only spent a day in the park. There are several intersecting trails. The “small” loop trail includes the Lintang trail and intersects with Pandan Kecil path, Pandan Basar path and more. I hiked through several trails and completely exhausted myself, actually. It was a wonderful hike.
There are probably enough trails to keep you busy for 2 days of hiking though I think you can get a good feel for the different settings in 1 day.
Looking back at Bako National Park from the boat as I leave (the visitor’s center is just off to the left).
The Red Tro Cafe is a small cafe outside the Galleria at Kotaraya which is in the CBD and old town JB.
Nasi goreng sotong (squid fried rice)
The Nasi goring sotong was quite nice and the meal was under 10 MYR (I think) which is pretty typical (about US$3). The Red Tro Cafe is located right to the Old Chinese Temple, and across the street from the Sikh Temple.
The Aquaria is located in the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC), near the Petronas towers. It is pretty small and something that can be skipped without missing much. But if you have a bit of extra time it is a fine way to spend an hour or two.
These are real (which might not be obvious from the photo) jelly fish floating around in the display.
The Chingay parade is held of the 21st day of the Chinese New year. In 2014 that will be February 20th.
Here are my photos from 2013 Chingay afternoon parade. The afternoon parade starts at 11 AM or so on the previous day – so on February 19th this year) as deity statues from the Old Chinese Temple are carried out to get ready for the evening parade.
The biggest parade is the night parade but there is also a parade during the day. The evening parade covers 10 km and starts about 7 PM, I believe; it will finish after midnight.
The Johor Bahru parade is also called The Parade of the Deities as the Temple deity statues are taken on a journey from the Temple to bless the city with peace, prosperity and harmony (the Chingay parades in Singapore and Penang are non-secular as I understand it).
The Grand Gem Indian Restaurant is located in the Blue Wave Hotel in the Central Business District of Johor Bahru. It is yet another good Indian Restaurant. Johor Barhu has many of good Indian restaurants a worthy choice along with many others.
I have seen swinging seats (similar to the one in the photo) in several restaurants in JB.
The Grand Gem has a very nice ambiance and the food is good. They don’t offer delivery, at this time.
The Blue Wave hotel overlooks the Straits with a view of Singapore. The restaurant is on the ground floor so you don’t have a view but the interior design is nice. The hotel is across from the old immigration site (to be a condo or hotel sometime soon, I believe) and near the new CIQ and City Square Mall.
Today is the Chinese New Year holiday (the first day of 2 weeks of celebrations). At Midnight (this morning) the sky was ablaze with fireworks. There are fireworks with huge visual displays that are all over the city. There are several huge “official” fireworks but there are dozen more with very large visual explosions that I could see from my balcony.
For lunch today I went to Sweetwater Mediterranean Restaurant and enjoyed an excellent lunch. I walked around downtown after that and it was like walking in a nearly abandoned city. Over 90% of the retail stores were closed along with most restaurants. The foot traffic was minuscule and there were hardly any cars on the road.
Spiral stairways in alley between houses. This is an old photo of the area I walked in (Tamen Pelangi), I didn’t bring a camera today.
It reminded me of walking outside on Christmas when I was a kid. The roads were abandoned like no other day. Now the traffic is a bit lighter on Christmas but it is nothing like the otherworldly experience it used to be. Today in JB was like that, it wasn’t far from turning into a ghost town. It was actually interesting walking around like that.
The first day of the Chinese New Year is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. It is a traditional practice to light fireworks, burn bamboo sticks and firecrackers and to make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil spirits. You can read much more about it on Wikipedia.
The Chingay Parade will take place on February 20th in Johor Bahru this year.
Related: Basketball Courts in Downtown JB – Big Lizards in Johor Bahru CBD – Arulmigu Sri Raja Kallamman Indian Hindu Glass Temple in Johor Bahru
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Murugan (Kartikeya) celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). Murugan is the Hindu god of war and victory. He is the son of the lord Shiva and Parvati; his little brother is Ganesha.
I took the photos in this post last year at the festival downtown (between the Arulmigu Sri Raja Kallamman Hindu Glass Temple and the Arulmigu Thandayuthapani Temple). This year the festival is scheduled for January 17th.
On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common.
The National Mosque (Masjid Negara) is located in downtown Kuala Lumpur. The Mosque was opened in 1965 and can accommodate 15,000 worshippers. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia.
Even when you can’t enter the Mosque itself the surrounding grounds provide nice views.
Carabao Thai Restaurant is located in Johor Bahru’s CBD, next to the New York Hotel.
The restaurant has only outdoor seating. They spray mists of water and use shade and fans to help keep things relatively cool. I think the setting is the best reason to chose Carabao, as the food is only decent as is the service.
Even though it is downtown they do a nice job of situating the restaurant on the back of the lot with some shade trees so you do get a bit of a feel of escaping the city. They also have a large parking lot.
Hemmant Trail is a short (1 km) trail located inside Fraser’s Hill (just a short walk from the clock tower, the trail is next to the golf course).
The entry to the trail is difficult to see if you come from the north, though it doesn’t look like it would be from the photo. If you walk to the start from the clock tower it is much easier to see the trailhead which is will be on your right before your reach the Mosque.
The trail is quite nice and fairly easy.